http://movies.ign.com/articles/985/985018p1.htmlTerminator Salvation Review
A lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but fun none the less...
by Christopher Monfette
May 20, 2009 - For every movie that ends with a hero walking off into the sunset – no matter how perfect or appropriate the ending – somewhere, Hollywood is thinking of the sunrise, the following day, the realm of the ever-after, where the sequels live. "What if Butch and Sundance jumped… into a river!? And made their way down toward… the jungle!?." It's simply not in the nature of the industry to let a good thing die. Better, one assumes, to let it wither, slowly, in the hopes of a great and final gasp. And, as if by accident, we are somehow entertained along the way, perhaps we'll come along, hopeful yet reluctant, for a fourth, or a fifth, or a sixth film in any given franchise.
Terminator Salvation is much the same way, entertaining but ultimately unnecessary, despite the promise of the robot apocalypse we've hungrily anticipated since Kyle Reese first spoke of it to Sarah Connor. And on the surface, it all makes sense – to illustrate the future war and reveal a portrait of the world-weary, battle-hardened John Connor, rapidly approaching the time when he must decide to sacrifice his father in order to save himself.
On paper, the idea of a full-length movie devoted to those too-brief glimpses of conflict shown in the first and second Terminator films seems like a fascinating notion. We have the visual effects now to expand upon the future in a way that director James Cameron never had available to him, and certainly the war between Skynet and the Resistance would provide for an action-packed, visually-stunning sci-fi/action film. And while the aesthetic reasons to make this sequel – the first in a proposed trilogy – seem firmly in place, true fans of the franchise are bound to ask whether there's a strong enough narrative reason. Given what we know at the end of Terminator 2 – arguably a masterwork of the genre – was negating that film's conclusion in order to set up this post-apocalyptic vision ultimately worth the potential sci-fi sacrilege? Sadly, the answer to that question remains unclear.
The story to Terminator Salvation finds John Connor – no longer the tortured adolescent seen in previous films – now simply a high-ranking soldier in what we know will one day become his own personal army. Grizzled and hardened, Christian Bale's version of Connor seems in many ways more detached and emotionally robotic than his cyborg counterpart, a machine named Marcus (played here by Sam Worthington) who fully believes himself to be human. Clearly, the film would have this take you by surprise – since the realization of just what Marcus is comes about half-way through the film – but since this vital bit of information is revealed in the trailer, the audience is effectively robbed of what should have been a substantial and emotionally gripping twist. And with Skynet unveiling kill orders for both Connor and a young recruit by the name of Kyle Reese – the two of whom have yet to meet – and the Resistance's development of a virus that could conceivably shut down every machine connected to the Skynet network, Connor and Marcus must work together to ensure Reese's safety and orchestrate the potential defeat of the robots, once and for all.
There are undoubtedly some elements here with tremendous potential to make the film work – John's effort to save the teenager who will eventually travel back in time and give his life for Sarah Connor; Marcus' realization that, despite being a machine, one can potentially choose to be human; the concept that past events have created a war that is somehow different than the one previously envisioned, where the timeline, the rules and the outcome are no longer clear.
And had the film stopped for even a moment to more fully explore the implications of any one of these elements, Terminator Salvation would have been a far better film. Rather, the script barrels recklessly ahead from set-piece to set-piece, seemingly afraid to pause for the kind of character work and careful explanation that made Cameron's Terminator films such a masterful balance of drama and action. Instead, Salvation simply buries its best ideas behind the fiery plume of well-choreographed explosions and the din of constant gunfire.
This can be blamed on McG only to whatever extent the director held influence over the script. Otherwise, this much-debated filmmaker handles the film's direction with relative competency, creating what in many ways is his least stylized action film to date. Seldom do the shots get too impressive or over-the-top for their own good, always sustaining the action and keeping a brisk, rapid pace. There's a sequence which begins with the attack of a giant robot and concludes on a bridge that represents some of the most dynamic action direction we've seen in awhile. The visuals and the broader look of the film are appropriately apocalyptic and in keeping with the tone of the future established in Cameron's film. That said, for the most part, the action here results in nothing more than some well-orchestrated sound and fury, and without a script strong enough to fill the gaps, Terminator Salvation becomes nothing more than a piece of loud, good-looking entertainment where its predecessors aspired to much, much more.
For those of you reading this who might be aware of the film's original ending, leaked to the press months prior to the movie's release, we can clearly say that the film builds relentlessly toward it – especially considering the underplayed theme of machines choosing their own humanity – and had the filmmakers shown the fortitude required to keep the conclusion intact, Salvation would have added something truly substantial to the Terminator mythology. Unfortunately, as it plays here, the film ends with a gutless whimper, promising future adventures that will no doubt continue to show us what we've already been told, albeit with as many explosions as humanly possible.
But just because something is ultimately unnecessary doesn't mean it can't be entertaining, and so long as you don't require Terminator Salvation to live up to its cinematic pedigree, you'll likely find a visually impressive and effects-filled way to pass two hours away from the mid-summer heat. Ask anything greater, and you're more likely to discover damnation than Salvation.
Rating 3 out of 5 Stars | 6/10
Sobre la saga acerca de la guerra contra los exterminadores del futuro
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http://www.aintitcool.com/node/41140Harry releases the review of the flaming turd he's clenched for 2 days: TERMINATOR SALVATION!
(Given every paper/site online has broken embargo. Here ya go)
It is a very rare thing for a film to shit squarely on my open and unexpecting eyes to such a degree that absolute hatred and loathing festers out of my every pore… but McG managed to do it with TERMINATOR SALVATION.
This is odd.
I’ve been wildly excited about this movie throughout production. I love the trailers, tv spots and the special internet trailer thing that wasn’t a clip like it said it was. I’ve been circling buying many of the toys – I’ve been thinking of picking up a couple of the SIDESHOW TOYS things they’ve been advertising on my site. I was so excited I even sent my wife into a 7-11 to get me a Slurpee cup for the TERMINATOR SALVATION movie.
But today, I began to get a tad nervous about seeing the film. I dug out my TERMINATOR Blu-Ray, my foreign T2 HD DVD and I thought about watching the last 15 minutes or so of Mostow’s. I put fresh batteries in my Stan Winston/ Terminator head that McG gave me at Butt-Numb-A-Thon… and I was going to tune my brain into the fevered state necessary for a new TERMINATOR film.
But as I held that TERMINATOR Blu-Ray… I sat it down and I didn’t put it in. I thought. You know, maybe that would be stacking the deck against McG. This is a beginning of a new series. I should just go in and let it play for me.
Yoko called me from work about 30 minutes before she got off and I was already annoyingly excited about the movie, demanding that she come home immediately so we could get to the theater. I wanted to be at the theater. I wanted to see the line of anxious fans. I wanted the excitement to envelope me. I feed on that kind of psychic geek energy. This is big summer movie energy.
But it was more than that.
I was 12 when THE TERMINATOR came out and thank God, my parents were the kind of awesome people that let me watch it. Now – that movie is all kinds of awesome greatness – but the thing that captured my imagination were those glimpses of the future mythology. The resistance. Purple lasers shooting & blowing the fuck out of robots. In a fearful world where anyone looking human could suddenly whip out a gun and start killing everyone. It scared the fuck out of me, but it fascinated me.
When TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY came out – I had purposefully stayed ignorant of everything about the film. I knew nothing. I was obsessive about seeing it – and I remember the giant ass line I stood in for the film. And while Robert Patrick was amazing with the help of ILM – I was left amazed by the brief glimpses of the future – that lone shot of a scarred John Connor with the binoculars. That reinforced the dream of John Connor and the Future War.
I’ve been dreaming and chatting about the “Future” for a long time. With Mostow’s TERMINATOR 3 – I loved the idea of a machine sent back to just ensure the preservation of Skynet and if it could take out the future leader of the resistance or key associates of the resistance… all the better. But I didn’t like the Termanatrix, but I really loved it when Connor found himself in that bunker – with radio messages coming in and he suddenly found himself exactly where he was always meant to be. This was how it began for John Connor. In this mountain, these weapons, these tools… this is where he began to build the resistance. So, while I didn’t like bits of the film or the antagonist… I didn’t feel betrayed or a sense of loathing for the film. But it was not either of the first two films.
This brings me to TERMINATOR SALVATION. An experience that I fucking loathed.
First off – the screen at the Gateway was warped slightly at the top and along the side. So not the theater I wanted to see this “hopefully” awesome film at.
But the screen didn’t cause me to hate the film. Nor was it the dispassionate audience that laughed mockingly at a few particularly awkward sub-ARMAGEDDON cutsie-poo scenes.
TERMINATOR SALVATION is about accomplishing 3 things.
1st – John Connor has to meet his dad, Kyle Reese and hand him a photograph of his mommy.
2nd – John Connor must become the leader of the resistance.
3rd – John Connor must get his scar.
What causes TERMINATOR SALVATION to fail in a way that has all the power of a yawn?
Well, first off – nothing has any weight to it.
Christian Bale looks like he could give a shit about all of this. Somewhere while he was holed up in his mountain with his wife he has suddenly developed a slight British accent. Which just doesn’t feel right. I never buy that he loves his wife Kate Connor that is played by Bryce Dallas Howard – whose sole job in the film is to really open her eyes wide. (and I like Bryce, it’s just she’s given not one solid scene.)
But by incorporating a structure kinda like PEARL HARBOR and all big movies that leave their soul – to tell a lot of pieces of an overall epic story – this film doesn’t have a main character that we care about. And doesn't develop any of the characters we're left with.
The star of the film is Sam Worthington. He plays a Death Row inmate that is written terribly. His scenes with Helena Bonham Carter are so mind numbingly awful, that you will not be able to not stare with train wreck in your thoughts (especially the latter scenes). She hasn’t been this bad since Kenneth Branagh’s FRANKENSTEIN. But wow, she’s excruciatingly awful here.
Perhaps I should tell you the opening scene. We open with Sam’s Marcus sitting on his prison bed as a ridiculously awful looking Helena Bonham Carter comes out. She’s there to get Marcus to sign his body, post-execution, away. She tells him she can give him a second chance at life. Wouldn’t he want that? He tells her a sentence about how he killed his brother and some other men, he doesn’t deserve a second chance. She continues to go after his body and he agrees, but on the condition that she kiss him. Her lips are so sickly looking, and he kisses her by grabbing the back of her head and forcing her face into his suddenly. When he pulls away he says rather absurdly, “Now I know what Death tastes like!” – the line and the delivery were BAD! I’m talking the kind of bad that you repeat as a watermark of awfulness. It’s a shame that Nolan wasn’t the sole screenwriter here… but those guys from CATWOMAN and T3.
Anyway, Sam Worthington. He’s the star of Cameron’s AVATAR and the upcoming CLASH OF THE TITANS. McG gets nothing out of him. He’s got sad eyes for the entire film. Which fits his morose Death Row Inmate, who wakes up naked in mud in the wasteland of the apocalypse. I can see a performance in him, he’s got a great face and body for film – but McG really seems to have asked for nothing out of him. But he certainly doesn’t come out of this as a star.
His Marcus does come across a real performance though. Anton Yelchin’s the real deal folks. His CHARLIE BARTLETT was great. His Chekov was spot on in JJ’s STAR TREK, but his Kyle Reese. Man, I just wanted to spend time with him. He’s perfect. He’s playing Kyle as a young man trying to find a way to become a member of the resistance, but he can’t get his radio to even work.
When Worthington’s Marcus meets Yelchin’s Kyle – things seem to pick up ever so slightly, but then we get introduced to one of the many utterly worthless characters in this film. Kyle’s sidekick is this little girl with a perm and a beret – that says nothing, but seemingly is always on hand with the right prop at the right moment. She’s oh so adorably worthless in the film. When I first saw her, I thought – “Oh wow, this is going to be our Ferel Kid from the THE ROAD WARRIOR or Newt from ALIENS… a cute kid raised in the wake of Judgment Day – a mean little kid that kills robots. Nope. She’s just mute and delivers useful props in the film.
These two characters get picked up and taken to SkyNet in San Francisco – probably because SkyNet needed the most powerful computers in the world… which are probably ILM’s computers. Heh. But no, they don’t do anything that fucking cute. Sigh.
With Marcus no longer with a thoroughly interesting character like Yelchin’s Kyle Reese… he’s given the horrifying acting cohort of Moon Bloodgood as a downed Resistance pilot that goes into battle with Geisha makeup, even though she’s half Korean and not Japanese. If you hated “Animal Crackers” – wait till you see her cuddle scene. FUCKING AWFUL.
Shortly after this – we have Marcus’ machine reality blown – and he now has to escape the resistance in order to save Kyle Reese. His scenes with Christian Bale are dreadful. First off, there’s zero smartass or fun in this John Connor. Having been helped by one Terminator – well it doesn’t seem to have given him much insight into anything. And you can tell that Bale doesn’t give two shits about the first two films, or anyone that has done anything with the character before. Or how the character was described. He’s got his own take on the material and it is BORING, UNINVOLVING, and without a single iconic moment. His performance is FLAT, and this is an actor I love on film, but not this time.
Also in this travesty is COMMON playing BARNES. Apparently his brother died, he hates the machines. End of character. There’s also Michael Ironside as the leader of the resistance known as General Ashdown. He’s really got nothing to work with other than taking a bit of the piss out of the prophesized Savior John Connor. Whom he doesn’t believe in.
By the time Marcus Wright is infiltrating SKYNET helping John Connor to rescue Kyle Reese before the Resistance blows it all to hell… We’re in the midst of pointless action and nonsensical meaningless bullshit.
Somehow in this film – it is fairly fucking common knowledge that Kyle Reese is John Connor’s daddy. Somehow- even fucking SKYNET knows this. Now you might think – AH – so the tension is – they have to rescue Kyle before they scan and recognize him – somehow. Well, except SkyNet finds him pretty quickly – but decides to use him as bait. Instead of killing him, which would have resulted in SkyNet winning.
Ok – so then – through the most painfully excruciating sequence of the film – when Marcus is in Skynet and is trying to access the files on where Kyle Reese is… suddenly McG “nukes the fridge” by giving SkyNet a face. SkyNet is Helena Bonham Carter – the chemo lady that visits Marcus when he was on Death Row to get him to sign his body over to Cyberdyne. And through this really long and grotesque hand-holding monologue catching the painfully slow-witted Marcus up on what’s going on… well, it’s bad! Really bad! I’m talking, you want to look away from the screen cuz it’s fucking embarrassingly awful bad.
And if that wasn’t bad enough – she has to show off crazy nonsensical morphing capabilities to show how her face could be anyone’s in Marcus’ memory. And it feels like the scene will never end.
I’ll stop there and not go into the rest of the film – with the exception of Arnold’s scenes, which he had nothing to do with, other than a body cast that Stan Winston did on him years ago.
Charlie Gibson and his team at ILM did a stunning job, for the 3 shots they deliver of 1984 Arnie. There’s no dialogue. But it is cool. Although pointless. It did cause a momentary buzz of excitement in the theater. And this is really the only thing besides a few scenes of Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reese that are even vaguely compelling in the film.
The action is dead because I don’t really care about the characters at all. I’m not emotionally on board for anyone other than Kyle. The effects work is top notch. But it really doesn’t matter.
The idea that McG made a John Connor adult leader story that makes John seem worthless is insulting. No character in the film gets the time to be anything. Even Anton’s Kyle Reese – as wonderful as it is – it’s there and gone, back for a bit, but ordered off screen. John’s fight with the Terminator is badly edited. In one scene you’ll see the Arnie bot throw John across a room hiting something metal that just folds up from the impact… then the next time you see John, he’s like a SWAT member, coolly and calmly checking his corners for bad guys.
Beaks asked me, “didn’t you love the Harvester sequence?” It has some nice action beats – but I didn’t care about it. It’s basically sub-ROAD WARRIOR stuff. And when I say that, I don’t mean slightly… One of the reason that amazing action sequence with the big semi worked is that George Miller built that character to be an icon, and he was.
I think that’s what really kills me about the film. I wanted to come away from this wanting to believe in John Connor. He’s the future’s EL CID. A man of legend, and sure – we’re not quite at that part of the story yet, but hell – John Connor was a bit of a badass as a teenage bastard in TERMINATOR 2. Here – he’s just a man that screams his dialogue and says everything through a headache.
As soon as you realize that Marcus is a MAN built into a robot – you can’t help but think of Peter Weller’s ROBOCOP – and how effortlessly human and heroic that character was. This film frustrates me, because this was supposed to be epic. This was supposed to be amazing. This was something I have wanted to see for a long goddamn time, and it’s a piece of shit that occasionally looks really good.
I’m astonished that anyone that loves the first two films could possibly vaguely give this film a pass. Yes, the craftsmen and the visual effects artists did their job, but the film just left me furious at it. At a professional level it is superior to WOLVERINE, but in WOLVERINE’s series – well… frankly the X-MEN movies can’t even begin to compare to how awesome the first two TERMINATOR films are. And TERMINATOR 3, is much better than X3. But in a way – I feel about this film, the way I do with Ratner’s X3.
In both cases, it feels like children playing with material of which they haven’t the slightest grasp of. They can’t conceive of what actually made the material great to begin with. To them, it’s the props, the hardware, the most rudimentary iconography. Not how the characters were LOVED by their creators. That the first TERMINATOR was a love story first and foremost. That the second TERMINATOR was a story about an overly protective mom and her son. This? This movie is about how he got that scar – and it isn’t Quint’s story about the tattoo removal, this is about the time a Terminator scratched my face. Seriously.
In the same way that Ratner let me down with the Phoenix saga, McG has let me down with the untold epic story of John Connor.
I know nothing I will say will stop you from seeing this film this weekend. The result will be a frustrating experience for many of you. Those of you that can divorce the myriad of conundrums regarding everything about this film. And really, how fucking stupid is Skynet? And is it self-aware of how stupid it is? At best, it is artificially average intelligence. At the very least, Skynet is obviously PC based.
I hate the film. Pure and simple. I loathe it. I hated it so much I didn’t want to see my friend’s faces afterwards. I just wanted to go home and vent. I really really hate this film. I hate how much effort so many great artists and technicians put into a film that’s this fucking bad. Ultimately its just shit moving, like a sewer pipe. I hate that there isn’t a sustained scene or sequence that I love as much as the best moment from TERMINATOR 3. I hate that when I left the theater I felt empty and let down. That I felt like writing a review like this instead of fucking dry humping a great TERMINATOR movie.
This feels like ALIEN RESURRECTION to me. Something that kills something wonderful for me. I’m no longer interested in Terminator. McG terminated my enthusiasm. I love the first two films. At least I’ll always have that. Fuck this movie.
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http://www.aintitcool.com/node/41137Massawyrm really enjoyed TERMINATOR SALVATION!!
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
We are a house divided here at AICN. I haven’t seen a reaction this across the map in a long time. Some of us violently hated TERMINATOR SALVATION with 2800wd scathing reviews waiting in the wings. Others found it forgettable and unnecessary. I feel like the odd man out. I actually enjoyed the hell out of it – but even I have my problems - a trio of tolerable, but serious problems that keep this from becoming a really awesome film in my eyes. McG did a great job with the action, that’s for sure. But there is one seriously missed opportunity here that leaves the film on a hollow note sure to sour many against it.
Let’s get the primary beef out of the way: I have a serious issue with films that desperately want to be a trilogy. Recently we’ve had films like PUSH and JUMPER that have tried desperately to set themselves up as franchises and in doing so refused to use any of their characters up. Villains go unpunished, stories go unresolved and we have a large climax that ultimately does nothing but look cool. And it leaves you with that empty feeling of watching a very long first act. Well, that’s the ending here. Once you start watching this, you will know EXACTLY how this movie is SUPPOSED to end. If you know anything about the TERMINATOR movies at all you will just know instinctively what is supposed to happen. But it doesn’t. That’s not the story this movie wants to tell. They want to get to that ending later. Right now, they want to tell this story. And the problem is that this story isn’t as good as the one you are waiting to see.
Because we know who John Connor is. We’ve been following the adventures of this mean, ornery son of a bitch since before he was born. We know what he is destined to do, what he will mean to humanity when his time comes. And we know about the fateful day that he sends his own father back in time to protect his mother and plant the seed of revolution – so to speak. What we don’t know is what happens to him after that day. I mean, does he even survive getting out of the time travel facility? Do we win against the machines? What the hell happens next? It would seem logical that this is exactly the point that a filmmaker would want to pick up and run with the ball. Because after he’s done what we all know he does…he can die. And knowing that he has mortality makes John Connor really interesting again.
But TERMINATOR SALVATION has other plans. This isn’t entirely John Connor’s story. It’s also Marcus Wright’s story. And unfortunately one can’t watch a single trailer with knowing what his story is. That’s the second problem. Once you’re introduced to him in the film, what information you already have ruins any real mystery surrounding his character. But they go through the motions of mystery anyway and tell a fairly interesting story. Just not the one they should be telling. And it feels like a lot of buildup for a payoff we never get.
And his story leads to the third and final problem. There is a single character moment in this that is so wildly out of place that it defies even the series own convoluted logic. What this character does is against everything they would seem to stand for, against everything they should believe in. And it is so irrational that it completely takes you out of the film. If you’ve seen the film you know exactly who and what I’m talking about. It is a ridiculous moment meant to set up an emotional payoff that I understand but cannot condone because of how out of the movie it takes you for a spell. And while this series isn’t exactly what I would call cemented in logic, there is always a certain amount of believability you must maintain to keep your audience invested.
I mean come on. I LOVE the TERMINATOR series. It is so much a part of my childhood that it is not even funny. I went from dressing like an Ewok for Halloween in the 3rd grade to dressing as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jacket and glasses in the 4th. And did so for three years straight. But this series revolves around a guy who sent his own father back in time to protect and knock up his mother so he could be born and raised as a little badass who would save humanity from a robot army that built a time machine to kill his mother and ultimately allowed him to be born. The series is a nest of wacky logic that only works if you accept the TIMECRIMES/LOST school of thought that the moment you create a time machine, everything the time machine sends back has already happened and the past can no longer be changed – even though it is about to be. But of course that undercuts all the tension of these films if you know that John Conner is going to live no matter what, so that’s never been the way they’ve presented it.
Now, that said, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the action here. McG does a great job of putting you in the middle of some crazy, awesome battles against the machines. From gritty urban warfare against stray terminators to dogfights against Hunter-Killer airships, this thing hits a number of extremes and puts us in a world entirely destroyed by the machines. This is a post-apocalyptic film, a nuclear waste nightmare in which the last few humans alive work together in a loosely organized network to try and bring down the machines. There are some very cool sequences and not a boring moment to be found throughout the breathless film.
There’s also a very cool underlying element of just what kind of hero John Connor is. Some see him as a prophet, unaware that he’s getting all of his tips of the future from a book on tape dictated by his mother who may or may not have been crazy. Of course we all know she was relatively sane (or at least right about the future), but there is a definite feeling of resentment about this rising hero who isn’t really living up to the legend yet. And I really, really dug that.
The film is a lot of fun. An explosive, thrilling series of gritty action sequences that makes for a good, but not great, film. I definitely want to see another, but I want to see them go darker, grimmer and get the plot that we’re all waiting to see out of the way so they can finish this thing up with the possibilities completely up in the air about what can and will happen next. I had a good time, but out of the seven major blockbusters released this month, this is ranked fourth on my list. I’ll watch it again at a matinee if I get a chance, but I won’t be broken hearted if I somehow get delayed and end up not catching it again until DVD.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.
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http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=26600Review: Terminator Salvation
PLOT: It is 2018 and Judgment Day has come and gone. In the midst of a bloody and vicious battle between man and machine, John Connor is staying the course and working to win the war once and for all. But when he finds out his father, Kyle Reese is being targeted by the metallic marauders, he must stop the machines from erasing his own life from existence. One thing he didn’t expect is a new kind of terminator, one made of flesh and metal, and one that he might have to put his faith into to help save mankind.
REVIEW:The summer blockbusters have arrived, and seem to run the gamut from seriously exceeding expectations with STAR TREK, to not living up to a mostly strong franchise, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. TERMINATOR SALVATION falls somewhere in between the two. On one level, McG gives us a fully loaded action flick with some badass terminators fighting the human resistance. With slick motorcycles and some creepy, tentacle sporting, robotic fish, Salvation has a lot of fun with technology. But what made James Cameron’s first two features work as well as they did is missing in this explosively loud, fire powered flick. And what is missing is the simplicity and the ability to create something more than just an shoot ‘em up Cineplex experience. The score, the performances including the unbeatable Linda Hamilton and of course Arnold, and the sheer power of an almost undefeatable villain.
While Salvation may have Christian Bale as an older and wiser John Connor, it lacks the focus of the first two films. There is so much going on here, that oftentimes, the sub-plots that are opened up really don’t go anywhere. It seems the filmmakers wanted to pay homage to Jim Cameron in more ways than one. McG even brings in a Newt (from ALIENS) like character that really has no place, other than to be cute. Not that Jadagrace as Star isn’t good, she is not a bad little actress with what she is given, but she serves almost no purpose. And the problem is, much of what Salvation brings to the forefront has very little to offer for the storyline as a whole. Over half of these characters you could’ve gotten rid of. After all, this is the story of John Connor (Bale), Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and the latest part man, part machine, Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright. It is really their story and didn’t need to be much more than that.
The film begins with Marcus who is about to face the severe punishment of lethal injection for crimes that are only hinted at. It is then, a doctor played by Helena Bonham Carter (a nice surprise), persuades him to offer up his body and organs to Cyberdine for research. If you aren’t following along at home, it is Cyberdine and Skynet which leads to Judgment Day. And once the new and improved Marcus awakens, it is 2018, and the war of man versus machine is well in place. Thus, Sarah Connor’s son is in battle overload trying to protect the human race. And when John Connor learns of a way to possibly destroy the machines on a massive level, he offers himself up to test it. Yet, a small glitch is thrown into the mix when he realizes that the machines have targeted not only Connor, but his future father, Kyle Reese. Don’t worry, if you are a fan of this franchise, or have even seen one of them, it isn’t all that complicated. But it is terribly cluttered. There are so many moments of promise that are completely disregarded and never fully addressed, as they most definitely should have been.
Such odd little quirks include what seemed like a major plot point involving John Connor’s wife, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. While she is clearly pregnant in the film, they did nothing with that storyline aside from one quick moment where he touches her belly. There was so much room for her character to grow but she is simply wasted here, although Ms. Howard manages to give a decent performance in spite of that. I also found myself wondering how Kyle Reese could get out of a small room, past a bad robot that guards the door. The next scene he is suddenly running around another part of the building fighting for his life. Really? Apparently these machines like to play with their prey. I also wondered where the rest of the film was. Some of the cuts seem lazy and make very little sense. Is there something missing? I’m hearing that there is. Which is good, but why not actually release the finished film? Because what they have here is sloppy storytelling, although it is certainly a beautiful mess of action and machine guns blazing.
I will say, most of the cast was very well chosen. And yes, Christian Bale is quite good as a man with a whole lot resting on his shoulders. I also loved the use of Linda Hamilton throughout some of the film. I won’t give it away, but it really made me wish she could’ve been a bigger part of it. And yes, they do have a little fun with “Arnold Schwarzenegger”. This is one of the few sequences that actually felt like a Terminator film, and not just another post-apocalyptic action flick. So if you go in just expecting to be wowed by some strong visual effects that fill up a good chunk of Salvation, you will have a good enough time. But if you go in hoping for another great Terminator film, you are going to be disappointed. While every so often a quick music cue, or a certain shot that involves a burly killer robot, will remind you of Cameron’s classic films, they are few and far between. My rating 5/10 -- JimmyO
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http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/review-terminator-salvation-lacks-humanity.phpReview: ‘Terminator Salvation’ Lacks Humanity
Posted by Cole Abaius
At a certain point in Terminator Salvation, John Connor pleads for the resistance commanders to stop making cold, calculated decisions when it comes to fighting the machines. After all, what’s the point in survival if they’ve sacrificed their humanity to attain it? The scene stands out for two reasons. One, it’s one of the few scenes with any genuine emotion, and two, it raises an idea that the writers, director and actors should have been following while making the picture. With all the grandiose talk about maintaining what makes us human, it’s surprising that the filmmakers would have used such cardboard characters to stand in for what should have been people.
Here’s the simple synopsis:
Judgment Day, a massive nuclear strike perpetrated by the self-aware computer network Skynet, has come and gone. Left on Earth are a large handful of survivors who are fighting back - led by the iconic John Connor (Christian Bale). Connor has known his whole life that these events would unfold, that he’d lead the resistance, but the discovery of one of the machines’ prisoners, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) shakes his understanding of his role. Soon, Wright becomes Connor’s best hope for infiltrating Skynet and saving his father.
A more honest synopsis would be three pages long and include every convoluted half-detail for the set up and process of the story. John Connor has to save his 13-year old future father from being blown up so he can later send him back to the past to have sex with his mother, Sarah Connor. Also, Marcus Wright, a convict who died several years earlier, is alive again and has been made into a super-advanced non-self-aware cyborg by a group of machines that just then figured out how to graft machine guns onto themselves.
With the continuation of this decades-old franchise, the filmmakers had the choice to either make a movie that would set up further sequels or make a good film. They couldn’t do both at the same time, and they sadly went with door #1.
The Terminator series has never been a thinking man’s action series. Even so, Salvation carries the weight of so many other logical fallacies and adds a healthy number of its own to the pile that it becomes a Rubik’s Cube with several blocks missing. It looks like fun, but it’s impossible to solve. On top of that, the action sequences weren’t exciting enough (or at all) to save my mind from having to think about all the mismatched pieces. Over all, it’s clunky and poorly scripted, leading to a complete waste of two hours and the potential of a compelling war story.
Starting with the writing (from the writing team that brought you Catwoman!), it has far too much exposition. Characters are explaining what is happening on screen, speaking like no actual humans talk, and spouting out the host of cliches that first-year writing teachers warn students about. A solidly emotional scene between Wright and Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) is wasted when he looks down and asks, “Do you think everyone deserves a second chance?” straight out of whatever soap opera the line was lifted from. Basically, any genuine moments of compassion are trashed by gag-worthy lines. As far as the story, it’s never clear what the objectives for the characters are, never any focused momentum. A little bit beyond the half-way point, they finally give the ultimate goal as infiltrating Skynet (which is conveniently located in one complex instead of, you know, being everywhere like T3 hinges on) on a rescue mission, but by then there’s no thrust behind it.
This lack of story is made worse by a lack of characters. I’ve already mentioned any that have real story arcs. Meanwhile, Connor’s wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) exists for basically no reason, as does resistance fighter Barnes (Common). The acting is good, but the characters play no role in pushing the action. The movie could have been made without them and would have been exactly the same. Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) is a likable enough character, and actually has some great development scenes, but the film is almost all Connor’s and Wright’s. Which is a problem.
The tone is also a major problem. It’s completely flat throughout, never really elevating the stakes realistically or explaining the importance of the actions to the audience. There’s too much to explain, too many plot devices that need shoving into the action. Instead of dealing with them, McG and company avoid them completely which saves on a ton of boring discussions about time travel but abandons explaining why certain characters are all that important. The flick hobbles along from action beat to action beat with almost zero life, and McG’s shaky execution of that action was enough to make me start respecting Michael Bay. There is never a battle between tension and relief in them so that even some of the larger fireballs come off as yawn-worthy. It’s always cool to blow something up, but it also helps the devastation if I’m worried about a major character I feel for losing their life in it, and it’s really hard to care about any of these characters.
Even John Connor. The film assumes that you’re already rooting for him because you know him from the other films. His introduction is lame, despite the fact that a scene later on in the film where he deftly takes down a motorcycle-bot and hotwires it would have worked well to introduce us to a futuristic badass. He also doesn’t do much of merit in the film to really warrant being on his side - other than he’s inexplicably an icon for the resistance movement (the reasons for which are also never touched on). Basically, if you haven’t seen the other films, you’re going to be in the weeds. Even if you have, McG and company should have known better than to hope you’d be rooting for a character that you’ve never seen in adult form before, a character that has only been a scared boy running away from killer robots, a character who has never been shown as a capable military leader.
To match the flat feeling of the film, Danny Elfman’s score is at the same level (as is the sound editing) throughout, creating no change between intimate moments and fight scenes. What’s presented is a bleak world that lacks any real humanity. On top of that, the score itself is really uninspired, lifeless, and heard-before.
On what seems like a nitpicky note that’s actually fundamental to how frustrating the movie is - there is no respect for how anything truly works within this film. Physics is left by the wayside. I’ve talked with friends a lot (my friend Anand first brought this to my attention) about how the world of The Matrix adds and elevates that film because the speed of the humans and the speeds of the programs are constant throughout. The need for bullet-time was to express the speed that had been seen in other ways throughout the film. But it didn’t alter how fast each entity really was. The physics might not be how things work in the real world, but they stayed consistent within that universe. Salvation is the opposite. Sometimes a machine will be stronger than another machine, other times the strength is flipped. The same machine that can snap a thick titanium neck, can also do only nominal damage when punching a human. It’s absurd, and seems like minutia, but it speaks to the cardinal virtue of adhering to your own rules within science fiction. A metal arm with serious force is going to cave a human skull in. Simple as that.
But perhaps most importantly, the movie lacks any real humanity. There are a few scenes that hint at how humans live - Kyle offers Wright some two-day old coyote meat, and the crew gets some carrots (that were, somehow, perhaps grown in the dessert?) at one point. But other than that, there’s no insight into the people of this world. It hit me after several hours of thinking about how to talk about it, but I realized that no one ever smiles in the whole movie. There’s no breadth of emotion - only war. Not only is that unrealistic, it’s insulting and furthers the detachment to the characters. It’s as if the filmmakers were worried that if someone smiled, you’d forget that there was an Apocalypse going on. But people just can’t be serious all the time, even during war. People need to vent, to celebrate small victories, to feel human. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few worthwhile scenes (Wright and Blair make a decent connection, and Kyle Reese brings at least some liveliness to the world), but the drastic majority of the movie is one note of despair struck on the piano and held for two hours.
Despite my major misgivings about how time travel is dealt with in the series (which I’ll probably be writing about soon), I liked T1, I loved T2, and I actually enjoyed T3. But Salvation is just a total mess. In fact, it’s such a mess that I plan on writing a spoiler-filled extension of this review (in Open Letter style) to delve deeper into the many, many plot holes and absurdities of it. So for now…I’ll be back…and come with me if you want to live through all the plot holes…
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By JOHN ANDERSON
A Warners Bros. release of a Halcyon Co. presentation of a Moritz Borman production, in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision. Produced by Borman, Jeffrey Silver, Victor Kubicek, Derek Anderson. Executive producers, Mario F. Kassar, Andrew G. Vajna, Peter D. Graves, Dan Lin, Jeanne Allgood, Joel B. Michaels. Co-producer, Chantal Feghali. Directed by McG. Screenplay, John Brancato, Michael Ferris.
John Connor - Christian Bale
Marcus Wright - Sam Worthington
Blair Williams - Moon Bloodgood
Dr. Serena Kogan - Helena Bonham Carter
Kyle Reese - Anton Yelchin
Star - Jadagrace
Darker, grimmer and more stylistically single-minded than its two relatively giddy predecessors, "Terminator Salvation" boasts the kind of singular vision that distinguished the James Cameron original, the full-throttle kinetics of "Speed" and an old-fashioned regard for human (and humanoid) heroics. Only pic's relentlessly doomsday tone -- accessorized by helmer McG's grimy, gun-metal palette -- might keep auds from flocking like lemmings to the apocalypse. The fourth in the celebrated sci-fi series, "Salvation" opens and closes with humanity at war with the machines. In other words, this thing isn't going to end soon. Nor should it, if it keeps on like this.
McG, whose segue from music vids to movies resulted in two "Charlie's Angels" extravaganzas and the woeful "We Are Marshall," exhibits an unexpected flair for the dreadful, abrupt and awesome. What we get here -- which was perhaps missing on the relatively sunny mental landscapes of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" -- is a sense of real horror: When humans are snatched up like Cheez-Doodles by skyscraper-sized Go-bots, there's no slo-mo relief or stalling. Stuff happens as it might were the world actually overtaken by demonic appliances.
Christian Bale, playing the "prophesized leader of the Resistance" John Connor, may have traded in the Batman body armor for "Road Warrior"-style outerwear, but one thing hasn't changed: He is, once again, a movie star playing second fiddle. Heath Ledger stole "The Dark Knight" away from him and Sam Worthington (who will appear in Cameron's "Avatar" this Christmas) heists "Terminator Salvation" from Bale, for the most ironical of reasons: In a movie that poses man against machine, Worthington's cyborg is the far more human character.
As a steel-beaded logo of Warner Bros. fades away, Marcus (Worthington), on death row for an unexplained crime, gets an 11th-hour visit from Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter), who wears the headscarf and pallor of a terminal cancer patient. She wants Marcus' body -- literally. She wants to turn him into a cyborg.
Wracked with guilt, resigned to his execution, Marcus agrees to sign the release in exchange for a kiss. "So that's what death tastes like," he says, as she leaves him to his lethal injection.
This is not your governator's "Terminator."
Bale, meanwhile, playing the adult version of the hero-to-be portrayed by Edward Furlong ("Terminator 2) and Nick Stahl ("Terminator 3"), is as purposeful and furious as anyone played by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Robert Patrick. One suspects he's been studying Linda Hamilton in "Terminator 2," although -- let's face it -- this is serious business. It's 2018. Skynet -- the "aware" machine -- has all but accomplished its self-appointed mission of destroying the threat of people.
But pockets of rebellion continue to operate even if, as in the case of a charred and rubble-strewn Los Angeles, the local contingent consists of just two kids: Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and the mute/cute Star (Jadagrace).
Kyle -- given a slightly geeky and perfectly plausible portrayal by Yelchin ("Star Trek") -- will grow up to father John Connor after being sent into the future to meet Sarah Connor (if you haven't followed the "Terminator" time line, this is no time to be catching up).
Thus, he has to be preserved. So does John, given that it's been predicted since 1984 that he'll be the one to save the world. There's a lot at stake.
McG's direction is always intelligent. (He does seem to have a thing for "The Great Escape," which is referenced several times.) The script by John Brancato and Michael Ferris occasionally goes off the rails. Certainly, their insertion of an existential dilemma for Marcus -- "I need to find out who did this to me," he says, his chrome-plated plumbing having been exposed to the open air -- feels very late-inning.
And the obligatory borrowing from the previous movies ("Come with me if you want to live," "I'll be back ...") tend to upset the mood created within McG's bleached-out world, which is very deliberate and doesn't need the comic relief.
There are great bits though: The thrashing, centipede-like, killer-snake thingie, which has the personality of a wolverine, is a neat invention. So are the biker Terminators, which molt like malignant pinecones off their towering mother ‘bot. A Schwarzenegger lookalike -- it isn't clear whether it's the ex-actor CGI'd or a complete fabrication -- is funny, but in this case apt.
Production values are enormous, especially d.p. Shane Hurlbut's work and the visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic, Asylum, Pacific Title and Art Studio, and Matte World Digital.
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http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/film-review-terminator-salvation-1003973886.storyFilm Review: Terminator Salvation
By Michael Rechtshaffen, mayo 17, 2009 06:00 ET
Bottom Line: The machines rise to the occasion. Too bad the dramatic element's just as robotic.
The latest chapter in the successful cyborg series following 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" -- and the first sans Schwarzenegger -- "Terminator Salvation" doesn't skimp on all that crunching heavy metal.
But while incoming director McG (the "Charlie's Angels" movies) certainly gets a rise out of the machinery in the post-apocalyptic thriller, there's little sign of life where the flatly executed human component is concerned.
The terminally sullen results are unlikely to hurt the picture's opening holiday weekend, given the presence of last summer's boxoffice king, Christian Bale, but its total domestic take will fall a lot closer in line with "Terminator 3's" $150.3 million than those gargantuan "Dark Knight" numbers reaped by Warner Bros.
Columbia is handling the film in most international territories.
Taking place in 2018, or 14 years after the dreaded Judgment Day has occurred, "Salvation" finds armies of Skynet Terminators patrolling the bombed-out remains of the country, searching for the odd pockets of human survivors who managed to survive the blasts.
Among the living, of course, is John Connor (Bale), who despite his uncertainties seems well on his way to becoming the official leader of the Resistance.
He's far less certain about the intentions of Marcus Wright (Australian Sam Worthington), a former death-row inmate-turned-organ donor who appears willing to help him track down a teenager named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who of course is supposed to grow up to become John's father.
Nevertheless, the two form an uneasy alliance.
Although director McG manages to keep the machinery humming 18 years after James Cameron's "Judgment Day" and its liquid metal raised the F/X stakes considerably, anchoring it in any sort of satisfying dramatic context is another story.
And the one provided by "Rise of the Machine" scripters John Brancato & Michael Ferris (curiously there's no mention of original character creators Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd) fails to give Bale and Worthington much opportunity to stand out from all the monochromatic rubble.
In Arnold's absence, an important ingredient of the "Terminator" iconography -- namely, the fun factor -- is in short supply. Apparently sensing the deficiency, the filmmakers have found a couple of ways to pay homage, both in terms of line callbacks and through the magic of special effects.
But at the end of the day, despite the still-potent landscape provided by cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, production designer Martin Laing and visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson -- the film is dedicated to the late Stan Winston, who designed the first T-800 -- and that rumbling, propulsive Danny Elfman score, an inescapable truth remains: It's just not the same without the Governator.
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http://collegetimes.us/advance-review-%E2%80%98terminator-salvation%E2%80%99-a-surprisingly-decent-action-romp-into-the-future/Advance Review - ‘Terminator: Salvation’: A Surprisingly Decent Action Romp into the Future
Posted by jwie86
*Note: This film releases on May 21st
For: Terminator and Sam Worthington fans; Those looking for a good post-apocalyptic action film
Not for: Those seeking innovations and originality in the sci-fi genre
The heavy bass and percussion anthem of Terminator is iconic, stemming from the imagination of James Cameron and his take on the conspiracy theory of machines versus humans. The first two movies in the series were fantastic representations of gritty sci-fi mixed with some good action and drama along with revolutionary special effects. The third, however, was a ho-hum entry that seemed to try and keep the franchise alive along with Schwarzengger’s acting career. Director McG now takes the reins as the series blasts off into the post-apocalyptic future and many had their doubts about how the movie would be, given McG’s past resume. Does the series still fare well even with the time change and nearly complete cast makeover? What may come as a surprise to many is yes, Terminator: Salvation is still a good entry and a marked improvement over its third predecessor that may not exactly set the sci-fi genre ablaze with its effects or plot line but progresses the saga in an interesting direction with good action to boot.
Terminator: Salvation is set in a post-apocalyptic future after Skynet, a huge supercomputer, has literally blown up the world with nuclear weapons and is battling the remaining humans, the Resistance, for complete control. At the spearhead of the operation for the Resistance is John Connor (Christian Bale), who is considered to be both a prophet, mainly because of his knowledge of what is to come, and a hindrance by the leaders of the Resistance, because of his rebellious ways. Assisted by Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Carter) and his own army, Connor works tirelessly to figure out a way to stop the machines. However, that all changes when a Resistance fighter Moon (Blair Williams) discovers Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a being who shakes up what Connor expected as both sides start to make their decisive moves against each other.
Perhaps the biggest mistakes that McG’s entry makes is based more on lack of innovation and ambition. Terminator: Salvation is definitely big and spectacular as an action sci-fi movie, yet it lacks the punch and complete terror that came with the first two entries. This is exemplified when looking at most of the characters, especially John Connor. Instead of full and featured emotions, most of these people take on with a specific emotion, whether it is being rebellious, fighting against the robots, or staying ambivalent. It is disappointing to see Connor so under fleshed with only a real change of heart by the end of the film as it is a bit nonsensical after all that he has gone through in his life. Even the final surprise villain will feel so intangible because of the lack of understandable emotion from the heroes. Additionally, the editing and exposition are pretty spotty and all over the board. The introduction is a mess of combining an awkward flashback with a long text overlay, and while never occurring to the same severity, there should have been tighter control over how the narrative is unveiled. The worst hindrance is the fact that important themes that seem readily apparent are never really explored. What does it really mean to be both a prophet and a soldier? What is the significance to being both a robot and human (and wouldn’t you realize it sooner when you couldn’t perform human functions)? How does one live day-to-day in a post-apocalyptic environment with oneself and others in normal relationships? A much better movie was definitely lurking underneath, yet it was never aspired towards.
These seemingly large errors, however, are overshadowed by both the entertainment value and successful progression of the narrative. Terminator: Salvation has a lot of great action sequences that effectively ramp up in the amount of effects and fights seen on screen. Tensions run high when a massive robot starts to take human prisoners or through a one-on-one showdown between human versus robot. It is non-stop and gritty (at least for a PG-13 rating). The biggest and probably unspoken star, though, is the great guerilla-style camera work. There are some great, beautiful long shots as the heroes duck and weave between debris and robots to reach a destination and while it may never be as ambitious as a movie like Children of Men, such good cinematography is always a pleasure to see. On top of this, Industrial Light & Magic continue their reign as a great special effects house as many of the CG and technology is seamless and tangible, save for perhaps a few not-so-great looking robots. Perhaps what also pushes this film into a more memorable direction is the direction the plot takes. Although it may never explore it in detail, the plot makes interesting points as to what happens when past, prophesized information does not exactly match up with the future or how a prisoner of war could change the entire battle. Worthington’s Marcus becomes an integral part of that discussion and although much cannot be talked about without revealing too much, this character is probably the most well-rounded and surprisingly intriguing character that will keep moviegoers interested until the very end, which is a testament to both his acting ability and the good dialogue he is given.
Terminator: Salvation is a competent, summer action movie that, much like all good reboots, pleases the fan base while attracting a wider audience. It does not exactly innovate the Terminator name beyond what is already accomplished as it relies on series old themes and not exactly helped by the dearth of character development for most of the characters, some odd exposition work, lack of cohesive editing, and odd ending sequence, but it does bring up some interesting ideas about where the series could go. Worthington’s Marcus is the unexpected character that really makes the most impact, raising questions about the differences between humans and cyborgs, while ILM creates another spectacular special effects offering that add to the constant tension and fairly slick cinematography. All in all, neither action nor Terminator fans should be displeased with McG’s work. Anyone expecting a genre-defining, science fiction film as explosive as the first two Terminators, though, are going in with too high of expectations.
The Wie muses: *** out of *****
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http://www.hollywoodchicago.com/reviews/7798/christian-bale-sam-worthington-in-mcg-s-disappointing-terminator-salvationChristian Bale, Sam Worthington in McG’s Disappointing ‘Terminator: Salvation’
Submitted by BrianTT
CHICAGO – McG’s loud-and-annoying “Terminator: Salvation” with Christian Bale and Sam Worthington continues the summer of non-Trek disappointments, delivering nothing but a bloated exercise in CGI overload. With awful dialogue, a ridiculous plot, and mostly uninspired performances, the interesting human element has been drained from the franchise. The machines have won.
Like “Aliens” without Sigourney Weaver or the first two “Terminator” movies without Linda Hamilton, “Terminator: Salvation” forgets a cardinal rule of action cinema - writing human characters that the audience is going to care about. The entire movie plays like a video game tie-in to the original franchise. Sure, it may be fun at times and it looks good, but it doesn’t have nearly the impact as its source.
The script from the writers of “Catwoman” and “Primeval” (the lame crocodile movie, not the cool BBC show), which really should have been a sign that the entire project was on thin ice to start, opens with the execution of a murderer named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington). Before he gets his final injection, Wright signs over his body to the research of a dying scientist (Helena Bonham Carter).
Many years later, the future has played out as expected and the war against the machines continues. If you’re not familiar with the mythology of the franchise, “Salvation” will not stand on its own in any way. You need to know the names Sarah Connor, John Connor, and Kyle Reese and the roles they play in this universe before you go in. Even “T3: Rise of the Machines” stays in the canonical fold with Bryce Dallas Howard taking the role once played by Claire Danes, Kate Connor.
Of course, the controversial star of “Salvation” is Christian Bale as the legendary John Connor. In the timeframe of the film, Connor is slowly taking his role as savior and leader of the human race, leading a small band of resistance fighters against increasingly deadly robots.
When John discovers that Skynet is trying to kill Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), he realizes that there’s a serious flaw in his past, present, and future. Kyle needs to go back in time and become John’s father in the first film. While John is trying to find his future/past father (it will make your head hurt of you think about it too long), a new figure comes on the scene - a reborn Marcus Wright, the first non-self-aware cyborg and a being who puts all preconceptions about man and machine in doubt.
“Terminator: Salvation” undeniably looks good. There are some powerful, well-done action sequences, including a great attack on a gas station and fight on a bridge. But even the action starts to feel derivative and repetitive. Even the climax of the film is surprisingly unexciting.
As for one more positive, Sam Worthington makes an effective major movie debut with easily the best performance in the film. He’s charismatic and interesting. It’s the kind of vibrant performance that Christian Bale usually delivers but fails to this time around.
Bale is dull, passion-less, and over-done. Christian makes the irrational decision to bring the growling whisper he used as Batman to John Connor. Even worse, this Connor just doesn’t feel like the kind of guy who would fire up anyone, much less the entirety of the remainder of the human population. I adore a lot of Bale’s work and generally think he’s an underrated actor, but it pains me to say that this is his worst performance.
But the blame doesn’t fall completely at Bale’s feet. It’s mostly the script and McG’s decision to hammer it into the audience’s head. The film trudges forward when it should zip by. Worst of all, it’s never once ‘fun’. There’s no sense that you should be having a good time at “Terminator: Salvation” as the special effects pound you into submission.
At least the first two “Terminator” films (and arguably the third) were a good time. People may be impressed by the special effects or Worthington’s performance, but what’s most disappointing about “Terminator: Salvation” is the simple lack of entertainment. How ironic that a “Terminator” film feels like it was made by a machine.
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by Ryan Stewart
Posted: May 21, 2009
Judgment Day finally happens in Terminator Salvation, and as Sarah Connor predicted, anybody not wearing two-million sunblock has a really bad day. Connor's all-important son John is now a thirtysomething man (Christian Bale) in a sun-bleached rubble-world, a doom-prophet and military wannabe having yet to fulfill his destiny to lead a rabble of survivors against the pitiless machines. This raises a (spoilerish) question: How is it that Skynet is actively targeting Connor in Salvation, fully aware of both his future centrality to events and his childhood escape from their robot assassins? The established timeline does not support this. Armed with this knowledge, why would Skynet even commence with their eventual plans to attack the Connors in a different time, knowing as they must that such plans will fail? Another question: Why am I putting more thought into this than the screenwriters did?
To say that Salvation director McG fails to successfully deepen the timeline grooves in James Cameron's magnificent duology or to approximate its intricate storytelling and heavy heart would be true, though in fairness, he really isn't even trying. Instead, McG opts to use the reset potential of Judgment Day as pretext for uncoupling the series from its grimly personalized, mano-a-machine architecture in favor of a significantly lighter Transformers milieu in which a multitude of one-note characters are arrayed against a toy shelf's worth of impractically-designed but ain't-they-cool-looking Terminator prototypes. That most of these impersonal machines, which come in one color—rust—but many varieties, including metallic water snakes, driverless motorcycles, and lumbering, hundred-foot-high behemoths, are suspiciously escapable and/or programmed to capture instead of kill humans seems less the result of their natural destructive potential and more the requirement of the film's PG-13 rating, which puts a crushingly low ceiling on the amount of actual terminating that can be accomplished.
Given the nigh-impossibility of series hero John Connor being picked off by a lucky T-600 in this film, the suspense factor is low throughout. The only time Connor's jeopardy feels viscerally real is in a well-executed battlefield helicopter crash sequence, which McG shoots almost in the first-person, creating a kind of flight-simulator experience; it's a creative demonstration, though a bit too self-conscious for its own good. Back in his bunker with very-pregnant wife Kate (a shockingly underutilized Bryce Dallas Howard, who spends most of her screen time staring at things), Connor acts as a one-man political opposition party, grudgingly taking orders from bona fide resistance leader General Ashdown (Michael Ironside), who commands his meager troops from the relative safety of a roving submarine. Sending out radio signals to potential survivors, Connor manages to snag the attention of a few such stragglers, including plucky Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, his face in a perpetually upturned sneer to suggest a teen Michael Biehn) and mysterious stranger Marcus (Sam Worthington), whose arrival shakes up the dynamic of the resistance, hastening a confrontation with Skynet that feels deliberately scaled down to ensure a potential sequel, an increasingly common and silly event-movie gambit.
Marcus's identity as a cyborg that thinks it's human, which is revealed midway through the film but is easily discernable from an outlandish prologue in which he trades horrific dialogue with Cyberdine toadie Serena Kogan (an embarrassed-looking Helena Bonham Carter), is a remarkably clunky conceit coming from a series rife with grand ideas, both visual and thematic; it also stands Marcus up as a very poor comparison to the previous "good Terminator"—i.e. the guy who the producers hope you're not thinking too much about while watching this film. When that familiar face from the past does finally pop out for a much-rumored cameo, it's a remarkable piece of visual-effects work, though also a completely random event, in a film loaded with them.
Salvation is a film that draws its inspiration from other, inferior franchises instead of its own, much-beloved mythology. It's rife with the dumbest callbacks imaginable (that Guns n' Roses song again, really?) and is often propelled by neither internal logic, nor the kind of storytelling magic that can cause us to forgive the odd plot hole or two. As a whole, it compares unfavorably even to Cameron's teasing flashes of the future war in his own films, in which Brad Fiedel's propulsive, noirish score conveys a sense of monotonous, numbing fear as survivors gather in dirty hovels, trembling and steeling themselves for the next appearance by a too-tall stranger in a conspicuous overcoat. Like the human skulls crushed under sleek metal feet in those feverish sequences, the Terminator film series is finished.
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